Zach Ertz knows he can’t afford to let his contract impasse be a distraction.
And three weeks after he admitted that the lack of progress toward a new contract “got the best” of him during training camp, he promised he's now focused only on his job.
“I’m excited about playing football,” he said Tuesday, in his first interview since the Tuesday before the season opener. “The thing that I’ve loved to do in the past is play football. So once the games have started, my sole focus has been on trying to find ways to win football games, get open on time for Carson [Wentz] and be a great teammate and I think I’ve done that. Obviously there are things we all need to improve on, but in regards to the contract, that’s not even in my thought process. I’m just focused on trying to win a football game right now. Obviously we need it. We’re in dire need of winning a football game, and that’s all I’m focused on.”
Ertz, now in his eighth season, is signed through the 2021 season, but in the wake of new deals for George Kittle, who the Eagles will see Sunday night, and Travis Kelce, Ertz hoped he would be next in line to get a huge extension.
But talks broke down last month, and the two sides aren’t close on terms of a long-term deal.
Ertz wants to play his whole career here, but the realization that it might not happen clearly affected him over the summer.
Ertz said that since the season started, he’s found a way to stick to his routine during the week and make sure his focus is solely on football.
“During the week I don’t think about it, honestly,” he said. “I have my process from Monday to getting ready for the game on Sunday. I do the same thing each and every week, so as long as my process is consistent, my mind is always in a good place going into the game. Very detailed from the time we finish the game on Sunday until the time we kick off that following week. So for me, I don’t think about all the external stuff going on. Don’t even have conversations about it, honestly. … For me, it’s just about the process. How can I be the best football player each and every Sunday and have that singular focus of trying to win a football game.”
Ertz had just three catches for 18 yards and a costly drop in the opener vs. Washington but is 12 for 112 over the last two games. His 15 total receptions this year rank fourth so far among tight ends.
Ertz has 540 career catches, 13th most in NFL history among tight ends. He needs 78 catches in the next 13 games to pass Jason Witten for the most catches in NFL history by a tight end in his first eight seasons. He needs 50 catches to pass Harold Carmichael for the most in Eagles history.
There was a report that Ertz and Eagles GM Howie Roseman had a heated exchange on the practice field before the opener.
Ertz didn’t deny it but wouldn’t talk about it.
“I’m going to keep those details personal,” he said. “I’m not going to get into the exact words of the conversation. At the end of the day, we’re all on the same page. We’re all on the page of trying to win football games. That’s where our focus is. We’re 0-2-1, half a game out of first place. We just have to find a way to start finding a way to win football games and everything else will take care of itself when the timing is right.”
If the Eagles are going to salvage anything out of this season, they need Ertz’s focus to be on making plays and not making money.
And it sounds like he realizes that.